orchestra etiquette

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    elizabeth-ann on #151396

    I was wondering if you all might be able to tell me what is considered proper for a harpist in an orchestra setting.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #151397

    I think it would be more effective to bring scores for the other pieces being rehearsed and to follow along. You could bring some other music that needs markings, perhaps. Reading a book is a possible distraction, and doesn’t demonstrate interest, so better I think to bring nothing and pay attention. As for standing, I would ask the personnel manager. And, we call them pieces, not songs. Don’t ever call them songs unless it is a pops concert.

    sherry-lenox on #151398

    ….or it has words. “A song is no song ’till you sing it”.

    Also, if I were slaving away on my contra bassoon I think I might feel a little ill used if I were to look over and see the harpist reading a best seller.

    ALSO, in this day of multi media events, you might wind up having your picture taken without knowing it, and that picture might wind up on YouTUbe, and you might become “the harpists who reads while everyone else is playing”.

    What I have seen is for instrumentalists who are not playing during a given selection to inconspicuously leave the stage and return when the harp (or any other instrument) has something to do. If it’s impossible to leave and return without being noticed, I’d feel much more comfortable being where I needed to be to play.

    ALSO, despite the very best of intentions on the part of the reader, books can fall, make noise, trip others if placed on the floor.

    I’m pretty much in the keep-your-mouth-shut-play-your-part-and-suck-it-up camp on this question I guess.

    sherry-lenox on #151399

    Forgive me, I should have said “tough it out”. I’m spending too much time with college aged musicians lately.

    Misty Harrison on #151400

    Yes definitely leave the stage during rehearsal of other pieces if possible. This way you can read or do something else politely. It’s just common courtesy to the conductor who probably doesn’t appreciate looking into the group and seeing someone not only not looking at him/her but reading.

    I always play along for things like the Star Spangled Banner but when you’re a harpist there will be times when you have to figure out what to do on stage when you don’t play in a piece but are in a concert setting where you can’t just walk off stage. The worst is if someone takes a picture at that point because then everyone says why isn’t the harpist playing? Instead of realizing that there’s no harp on that particular piece.

    Tacye on #151401

    Elizabeth did ask specifically about bringing a book to rehearsals- not concerts!

    Misty Harrison on #151402

    Um nobody on here wrote about her reading during concerts. Pay attention instead of reprimanding when you haven’t read what was written properly. We’re talking about two different things. Readig during rehearsals and What to do during a concert when you don’t play on a specific piece.

    Tacye on #151403

    I apologise to Sherry if I misinterpreted her post, but the idea of gaining youtube notoriety for reading quietly in a rehearsal is so peculiar to me I assumed she must have been thinking of a concert.

    sherry-lenox on #151404

    No apology expected! I spent all of my orchestra years with a growling bear of a conductor who was an absolute martinet about decorum.

    I was once publicly rebuked for applying ChapStick during a rehearsal and another time for wearing open toed shoes.

    Still, we were part of a wonderful orchestra and I don’t feel the least bit damaged for the experience.

    To this day I think it’s better to be a little too prim rather than too casual.

    r-pista on #151405

    Yes, I’d say err on the side of being too cautious in rehearsals in general. Good behavior sets an example to your fellow musicians (especially if you have younger players nearby).
    We harpists are no strangers to waiting around to play our parts, so I think having things to do to occupy us (books, crosswords etc) is perfectly fine if you’re waiting offstage or in the audience. Just not onstage, even in a really long tacet section.
    I once played in an orchestra where one of the woodwind players had a book tacked to his stand and every time he had a rest (even if for a few measures), he was reading with his elbow resting on his knee. It became so part of his muscle memory, that even in concerts the moment the instrument left his lips, his arm automatically went down to rest on the knee in a rather jerky manner that was quite obvious from the audience. I know this the extreme… I’m just saying… establishing professional behavior and habits is very important!

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #151406

    Re: your question about what to do during the anthem: If there is a harp part, then you stayed seated and play it as normal. Consider that the harp column is doing the standing for you! If there is no harp part, then by all means stand up. As for the book: if there is a really long gap, I usually leave the stage and read or chat with the stage hands, but stay connected to what is going on in rehearsal. In most halls, there is a monitor in the green room, so make sure it is turned on so that you can hear what’s happening. Also, my orchestra has a clearly posted rehearsal order which the conductor is supposed to adhere to. Nonetheless, once in a blue moon, he or she will deviate from that, so do not leave the building to get a coffee unless it is a break for everyone. Brass players and percussionists sometimes read onstage at rehearsals, but it really offends some conductors, so it’s best to avoid it and leave your book, crocheting, lace-making, etc. backstage. A good book can be so engrossing that you can forget to pay attention and miss an entrance. Bringing a score sounds like a great idea, but make sure the conductor knows that you’re not reading a book!:-)

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #151407

    I know a lot of Broadway players and others in the pits like to read magazines, but they are not thinking of the balcony denizens who can see what they are doing.

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